Jehangir Sabavala, an artist whose career spanned over 60 years, passed away on Friday morning after battling lung cancer for two years. The end came at Breach Candy hospital due to respiratory failure. Mr. Sabavala was 89 and he is survived by his wife Shirin and daughter Aafreed.
"He was admitted to the hospital two weeks ago. He was in a critical condition. He was initially in the intensive care unit and later shifted to a room. He passed away this morning between 10.30 and 11 a.m.," Dr. Santosh Shetty, CEO, Breach Candy Hospital Trust, told The Hindu over telephone.
He was born in 1922 in Mumbai and got a fine arts diploma from the Sir J.J. School of Arts in 1944. He then went to Europe and studied at the Heatherley School of Art, London, from 1945 to 1947, and in Paris from 1948 to 1951, the Academie Julian from 1953 to 1954, and the Academic de la Grande Chaumiere in 1957.
Mr. Sabavala had to his credit over 30 solo exhibitions in India and abroad starting from the first one at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, with the help of the late M.F. Husain. Solo exhibitions of his works were held at Aicon Gallery, New York, in 2009 and Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai, in 2008. ‘Jehangir Sabavala: A Retrospective’ was organised by the Sakshi Gallery at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai and New Delhi, in 2005-06. His works figure in numerous group exhibitions all over the world, including ‘Trends and Techniques – Water Color in India’ at Galerie 88, Kolkata in 2005; ‘The Search’, Mumbai, in 2004; and in a display of the Jehangir Nicholson Collection, Mumbai, also in 2004.
A film on his life ‘Colours of Absence’, by Arun Khopkar won the National Award in 1994. Mr. Sabavala was awarded the ‘Padma Shri’ by the Government of India in 1977, and the Lalit Kala Ratna by the President of India in 2007. He was felicitated by the Society of Contemporary Artists, Kolkata and has been awarded the Dadabhai Naoroji Millennium Award, Mumbai, the All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society ‘Kala Ratna’, Delhi , and the Grand Prix de la Peinture, Monaco.